A claim is being brought in the High Court by Tulip Trading Limited, a company ultimately owned by Dr Craig Wright and his family. Dr Wright says he created the Bitcoin system under the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto.’
Tulip claims to own Bitcoin worth around USD 4.5 billion. In February 2020, the private keys enabling access to the Bitcoin were deleted by hackers who accessed Dr Wright’s computer and he is now unable to access the Bitcoin.
The claim is novel and of particular interest because Tulip is seeking to demonstrate that open-source software developers who worked on the Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Cash ABC software owe tortious and fiduciary duties to Tulip which require them to re-write or amend the underlying software code to enable it to access the Bitcoin.
In a recent interim hearing in the claim dealing with security for costs, the Court gave an initial view on the allegation that the alleged tortious and fiduciary duties subsist in this context: “I accept that the merits of the claim that the defendants owe the claimant the duties alleged are not on their face strong.”
However, this is only a preliminary view, and the Court is expected to examine the merits of the allegations further at an upcoming hearing on jurisdiction. Any further commentary given by the Court on the merits of the claim will be of great interest to crypto asset owners and software developers alike.
The recent judgment can be found below.
I accept that the merits of the claim that the defendants owe the claimant the duties alleged are not on their face strong.